“There are two kinds of pop stars I admire: those that seem larger than life and completely out of reach– your Prince, Michael Jackson, Madonna types– and those that make you think, “Hey, this person is a lot like me.” Each has its place, but the latter offer a special kind of inspiration, because they bring stardom down to earth and fill life with new possibilities. You see what they are doing and start to think about what you could be doing. We lost one of these people today. Adam “MCA” Yauch, founding member of the Beastie Boys, died of cancer at age 47.
Growing up like I did in the 1980s and 90s– middle class, suburban, white, living a sheltered life but curious about the wide world outside it– the Beastie Boys were a constant influence. First they were hilarious, then they were cool, then they started to realize what was really important. My arc as a person– from goofing around and listening to Licensed to Ill as a teenager to thinking about MCA’s acknowledgment of the group’s earlier boneheaded misogyny in “Sure Shot” as I was well into adulthood– progressed more or less in parallel. I related. The Beastie Boys were exceptional not because of who they were, but what they did. And life as they lived it seemed like something to aspire to.
The Beastie Boys turned curiosity into a form of art. They wanted to know more about what was around them and learn everything they could about what wasn’t. Forget about Kurt Cobain for a second: For kids like me, the Beastie Boys invented the 90s. Technology was changing fast and the world was shrinking rapidly. Between their music and label/magazine Grand Royal, the Beasties showed how to reach out and scoop up all the best parts. New York hip-hop and punk rock, Japanese pop, Jamaican dub– all of it could be gathered and re-assembled into something that reflected who you were. This sort of cultural mixing was nothing new, but the Beastie Boys brought it to the mainstream. They were ambassadors, but their hipness didn’t look down on anybody. It felt inclusive.”
Just in time, here’s some of the best that 2011 has to offer for an upbeat end of the year.
Can a song be played eight times in a row at a concert without starting a riot? If the song is this good, it can. Here’s a slight re-mix featuring a take from T.I. before he finds a way to end up back in jail.
Despite a clever marketing campaign that seemed to become the stuff of case studies, nobody really seemed to care that The Beastie Boys were back. But even if only for that genius video, this track deserves a place on the list.
Well, there you have it. Thank you all for reading: this really was a break out year for the blog. I hope you all have a wonderful New Year’s, and I look forward to typing your ear off about dozens of songs you simply must hear in the new year.
Who knew that the Beastie Boys attended the Kanye West school of new media marketing? Following on the heels of yesterday’s leaked track, we now have a trailer for what seems to be the Beastie’s gonzo take on a Runaway-esque short film. Reflecting their different artistic sensibilities, Kanye had crazy artistic flourishes including a woman/swan and a paper mache Michael Jackson, and the Beastie Boys have a collection of comedians including Will Ferrell, Seth Rogen, Danny McBride, John C. Reilly, Jack Black, Elijah Wood, and lot of other famous people.
This film has some surprisingly dystopic touches, but also seems to be hilarious in a borderline nonsensical sort of way. To wit: “sense is something you can’t even make sense of until you’ve been to the future and spent time there.”
As the old music industry melts down even for superstars, it’s interesting to see how quickly artists are picking up each other’s tactics. What’s next? B.E.A.S.T.I.E. music Thursday’s?
Ladies and gentlemen, the Beastie Boys are back. This single dropped/leaked (is there a difference these days?) a matter of hours ago, the long-awaited Hot Sauce Committee Part Two drops in May.
The sound of this brings back a flood of memories: this track could have rocked the stage all the way back in Lollapalooza 1994. It’s a welcome return to form, as few can bring the body moving beats and riffs as well as these guys. Make some noise if you’re with me!